[OPE-L:4471] Re: Sraffa: a Marxist economist?

riccardo bellofior (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Fri, 21 Mar 1997 01:03:48 -0800 (PST)

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At 15:02 19-03-1997, Gerald Levy wrote:

>Whether or not Sraffa _wanted_ to speak openly on these issues is
>speculative. What we do know is that he didn't. I think, therefore, that
>the claim that "there are no doubts" is speculative as well.

I would rather underline the "openly": that does not mean thathe
didn't spoke privately in a way which left no doubts that he felt to pursue
the Ricardian *and* the Marxian tradition.

Sraffa was an Italian, and there are persoal recollections of his
close friends and pupils etc. who confirm that he felt to be within that
tradition: and, of course, there is Joan Robinson's famous phrase that
Sraffa was against any revisionism of Marx, even on the labour theory of

BUT I agree with Jerry that personal recollections are not in any
sense final in these kind of disputes. Indeed, I referred in my previous
mail to the *written* documents in the Sraffa archives in Cambridge which
confirm, in my opinion, his attitute towards Marx. Of course, they are not
public at the moment, and that's a pity. As I said, I wrote a paper with
Potier on the basis of the archives, but it will not be possible (without
the permission of Garegnani: which means, that the thing is almost
impossible) to quote from the documents, only to make paraphrases.

I admit than the issue is a tricky one, and my "without doubts" is
to me something which comes from something I see as common knowledge in the
environment where I was formed, and from the reading of documents which are
not public.

Let me add two things: (i) if we want to stick at what Sraffa
really said, it is clear that the Sraffa-based critique against Marx was
never Sraffa's criticism against Marx, since he never wrote against the
latter, nor supported those who did; (ii) if we look at what Sraffa wrote,
we saw that in the 196's0 book he put the value of the net product equal to
1, and then (in another paragraph) the quantity of living labour in the
period as equal to 1. Then, is it not clear that the p/w relationship in
Sraffa can be interpreted as the rate of exploitation in the New
Interpretation-like readings of Marx? Of course, he thought at the rate of
exploitation in a more traditional (and, may I dare to dsay, more correct
way, that is in labour embodied terms) way. But what he actually wrote
seems can be interpreted in either way.



Riccardo Bellofiore
Department of Economics
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